A Week In The Midwest On A $305,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a Physician who makes $305,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on wedding dress alterations.
Occupation: Physician
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 35
Location: Midwest
Salary: $305,000 ($285,000 base + $20,000 incentives)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $6,965.34 (plus $1,359 1x/month)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,300 a 2-br, 2-ba duplex
Student Loans: $1,005 (I have about $55,000 remaining in student loans; I was in debt $235,000 when I finished residency four years ago)
Charity: $1,239 (with additional donations at year's end to be ~12% of my post-tax income)
401K: maxed out annually (my contribution: $18,000; employer contribution: $12,000)
Car Insurance: $76
Rental Insurance: $20
Subscriptions (Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, Apple Music, HBO for Roku): $58
Cell Phone (recently combined with fiancé): $182
Therapy: $180 (two sessions monthly)
Gym: $32
Utilities: ~$150
Internet: $102.01
Savings: before getting engaged, ~$8,000/month; currently ~ $4,000/month (I'm paying for the wedding myself)

Day One

6:05 a.m. — Yay for a quiet night on call! I wake up to my coffee pot. My fiancé, S., is visiting this week (he lives over 500 miles away), and I'm feeling — as my therapist would say — dysregulated. I drink three cups of coffee in peace on the couch, trying to recharge. It sort of works. Then I do my skincare routine (wash, exfoliate, moisturize) and get dressed (collared shirt, ankle pants, loafers). Before I leave, I take my final dose of Accutane. I've been on it for the last 12 weeks, in an attempt to clear up some stubborn acne that especially flared after I went off the pill last year. I should (per protocol) be on Accutane for 4-8 more weeks. But the wedding is now 30 days away, and S. and I are Catholic (so contraception is not an option) and I have to be off this drug for one month before there's any risk of pregnancy. I'm hoping my modified protocol will serve, but I know the risk of relapse is higher with my short course. Sigh.
7:40 a.m. — Off to work. I have a 25 mile commute, but it's a quick drive and the scenery is gorgeous. I listen to NPR on the way.
8 a.m. — My work provides breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack in the physician lounge. I usually take advantage of the breakfast options, and lunch is usually a mix of things I've brought from home with whatever is served in the lounge. I'm very thankful I don't have to pack a full lunch every day. Today, I have some scrambled eggs and then I get to work. I tend to cope with dysregulation by burying myself in work (see also: drinking, shopping). Thankfully, today my job delivers. After an hour, I take a little break, open a can of V8, and pay a bill. My dad is a rancher, and I have some cattle in his herd. This comes with some periodic registration expenses. $160
Advertisement
10 a.m. — Desperation coffee from the communal Keurig from pods I purchase myself and keep in my office.
12 p.m. — I decide to go to daily Mass. There's a Catholic church right across the street from my workplace, so it's very convenient. I'm a recent convert, and I'm still learning things about the service (and the words to say during the service). Back at work, I eat a tomato and a peach while getting back to my cases.
2 p.m. — Meeting with the boss about long-term planning. I sneak a fun-size Snickers from his secretary. After this meeting, I have a follow-up meeting with my colleagues. Then, back to the grind with some peanut butter and a banana.
4 p.m. — Break time. I order the wedding menu cards. $175.23
5 p.m. — I leave work just early enough to rescue a package which has been held hostage at the post office. I have no idea if it's a wedding gift, or something else. It turns out to be the bow ties for our ring bearers. I make dinner when I get home (sausage, potato, and kale soup), with peaches for dessert. It's decent but not miraculous. I clean up the kitchen and then S. and I watch a little TV. I think about going to the gym, but my uterus is cramping, so I fall asleep on the couch, and then take a shower and go to bed around 9:30.
Daily Total: $335.23

Day Two

2:30 a.m. — Co-sleeping is absolute bullshit. I move to the couch.
Advertisement
5:20 a.m. — Alarm. It's a Holy Day of Obligation, so I'm going to Mass before work. I am tired and murderously angry about it, wondering if co-sleeping is a ploy of the patriarchy to make women exhausted and more compliant. I am more rational after 16 oz of coffee. I get ready (trench dress and flats), and go to morning Mass.
7 a.m. — Mass. The crowd is larger than usual for the Feast Day. The service is lovely. Afterward, I stop at a local donut shop and purchase two dozen donuts for my team at work. I somehow manage to avoid eating one on the commute. I call my brother on the way to work to discuss the legal options for the undocumented high school student who (through a series of traumas) recently came to live with him and his family. If DACA were still open to new applicants this would be a much simpler situation. Currently, it's frustrating and stressful. $21
8:15 a.m. — Breakfast is scrambled eggs from the lounge. Then I get to work. A couple hours later, I eat a peach.
11 a.m. — Desperation coffee from the Keurig. And I cave and eat a quarter of a donut. Then, lounge lunch — grilled chicken breast and mixed vegetables and watermelon. With another peach. I Paypal some money to S., who picked up a Starbucks gift card for my teacher friend because it's her first day back at school. $30
1:30 p.m. — Today, I have my final dress fitting. I live in a semi-rural area and my seamstress is ninety miles away. S. picks me up from work early and he drives while I try to nap. It doesn't work. We show up a little early and go to a bar to have a quick beer. He also has a tray of sliders. I pay. $19
Advertisement
4 p.m.— Dress fitting. My seamstress is a wizard and the dress fits perfectly. I do have a moment where I think it would look better if I lost 15 pounds to look like Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, but then I remember to f*ck that noise. My seamstress also made my veil and I'm happy with it. She's also already steamed the dress so I can take it with me. Shit's getting real. The alterations and veil are $588. ($700 including tip) $700
5:30 p.m. — S. and I meet up with my teacher friend while we're in town. We have beers, a cheese plate, hummus plate, and some soft pretzels. The food sucks, but the beer is above average and the company is pretty damn good. I pay. $41.19
7 p.m. — We drive home. The scenery is breathtaking, and we pull off the interstate and drive north a little to photograph the horizon as the sun sets over the rolling hills of corn. I love it here. When we get home, I water my plants and then empty the dishwasher and load the dishes from the sink, and hand wash what's left. Then, shower and bed. No co-sleeping for me tonight.
Daily Total: $811.19

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — Up before my alarm. I'm so glad I slept alone last night. It's pay day, so I pay some bills while I drink a cup of coffee, and then get ready and pack for the weekend. I can't wait to see my family!
Advertisement
8 a.m. — Work. Breakfast is toast with peanut butter and a peach (tell me you're turning this into a drinking game).
10:45 a.m. — Break time. I've been eyeing a white Roland Mouret skirt on 24 Sevres. Today it's on super sale, and I bite the bullet. I hope to wear it to the rehearsal dinner – totally counting this as a wedding-related expense. $411
11 a.m. — S. picks me up from work early. We're observing the Catholic tradition of meatless Friday and we get him a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, as well as a coffee (for him) and a latte (for me). $9.34
11:15 a.m. — Earlier this week, I went a local produce stand to buy peaches to can with my mom this weekend. I purchased two boxes (40 lbs for $70), and then realized the fruit would be overripe by the weekend, unless it was refrigerated. I explained to the fruit stand lady that I didn't have refrigerator space for that many peaches and asked if I could pay for them at that time, and pick them up later in the week. Thankfully, she agreed. So today we pick them up – and the lady tells me she only has one box left, so I'm lucky I purchased them earlier in the week! After we pick up the fruit, we head to my parents' house, which is a farm/ranch five hours away. Lunch for me is the latte, a peach (obviously), and a green smoothie (half of one banana, spinach, ice, splash of milk) I thawed this morning. We make one stop and I buy some gum. S. pays for fuel. $3
Advertisement
4 p.m. — Home! We stop to see my brother and his family. I make some toast for S. and eat an orange and some cheese. My nephew shows me where they keep the fruit snacks so I have some of those too.
5 p.m. — S. and I take my nieces out for dinner. We head to the local Mexican restaurant and chat over chips and salsa, and chile relleno plates. S. and I get margaritas. It's awesome to catch up with them, and when they call S. “Tio” it makes me smile. $66.53
6:30 p.m. — We go out for ice cream at the local drive-in shack. $10
7 p.m. — We hang out with the rest of the family all evening and then S. goes to my sister's house to sleep, while I go to my parents' house. In bed by 10:30.
Daily Total: $499.87

Day Four

5:30 a.m. — My dad is up making coffee and the noise wakens me. I check my email, and pay the final payment to the wedding florist. $2,716.91
6 a.m.— Breakfast is coffee and a peach. I used to keep some scrubby clothes on the farm, but my mom recently evicted my stash. I manage to find an old t-shirt and ill-fitting pants that belong to my mom. They look ridiculous, with a rubber-banded waist, but this is the farm and I don't care.
7:15 a.m. — My dad comes back in from morning chores and picks me up to pick sweet corn. The weather is cool and sunny and it feels so nice to be outside. We pick about 225 ears, then haul them back to the house where my brother and his family are already waiting for us. We shuck, wash, and boil the corn, then cut the kernels from the cobs. The kernels then go into pint- and quart-sized Ziploc bags, then into the freezer. It takes us all morning, but it's fun and productive and I think we all enjoy it.
Advertisement
12 p.m. — Lunch is a smattering of baked zucchini with cheese, peaches, a tomato, and corn. I make S. and my dad sandwiches. Then, we go with my nieces to the barn to see a new litter of kittens! They still have blue eyes and are so cute I briefly consider taking one back to my home after it's weaned.
1 p.m. — My brother and his family and my sister and her kids leave the farm. S. and I sit together while I go over some wheat from my dad's last harvest, which my parents picked for me to use in the wedding flower arrangements.
5 p.m. — S. and I go to town where I help my sister and sister-in-law with the evening meal. We're cooking traditional Mennonite food (which is highly labor-intensive and proportionately delicious) to celebrate a few family birthdays happening this week. We are slower than we had hoped to be in finishing it, but no one gets too antsy about it. And we have some laughs about the stress.
5:45 p.m.— Dinner is served. Everyone seems to enjoy it. Dessert is tres leches cake and a Mexican chocolate cake. I have a little of each. So good. After dinner we hang out and talk. It's so fun. I head home around 9. When I get back to the farm, I help my mom prep the kitchen for tomorrow's project: peaches! In bed around 10.
Daily Total: $2,716.91

Day Five

5 a.m. — I can hear my mom continuing the kitchen prep. I stay in bed and check my email, pay my student loan, and then mess around on Instagram for a few minutes. I also send a payment to the wedding pastry chef because I asked to change the frosting on the cake and there's an up-charge for this one. $83.38
Advertisement
5:30 a.m. — Coffee. Then, off to the races. We blanch, peel, and jar 21 pints of peaches. Then, we get both get ready for church. I pack up the car and drive to town.
9:30 a.m. — Church with my family. I haven't been to a Protestant service in a while – almost forgot how long the sermons are. Ha!
11 a.m. — S. and I head back to my home. Lunch on the road. He has pizza and I eat half a ham sandwich and popcorn. S. again pays for fuel. I notice my forearms have a little rash on them that I assume is from being in the corn field. I have very sensitive skin so it's no surprise but still — super annoying. $13.79
12 p.m. — We listen to podcasts and make plans for next month. S. drives. I book my Airbnb for the few days before the wedding. $380
2 p.m. — Pit stop. S. gets a cherry coke and I get a limeade. $4.75
5 p.m. — Back home just in time to go to evening Mass. I don't have the best attitude about it. Of course afterward, I'm glad I went (kind of like the gym).
6 p.m. — We pick up some food. S. gets Chinese and I get a salad. At the grocery store, I buy chicken quarters, beans, basil and… more fresh peaches. At home I roast kale. I have my salad, the kale, a couple bites of S.'s sweet and sour chicken, and an egg roll. And a peach. $28.16
Advertisement
9 p.m. — I do a little side hustle work and then get in bed. I pass on co-sleeping.
Daily Total: $510.08

Day Six

5 a.m. — Up before my alarm. I try to sleep a little more. Then check my email, and finally get out of bed around 5:45. I throw in laundry and tidy the kitchen, and eat half a peach. Then I have coffee while planning my week. S. leaves today so I'll have more time to be task-focused. I throw on some scrubs, kiss S. goodbye, and head to work.
8:15 a.m. — Work. Breakfast is eggs from the lounge.
11 a.m. — Lounge lunch is a slice of ham and pineapple. There are also roasted carrots, but they're covered in a weird dried spice blend and I don't eat them. I finish with an apple from home, and get back to work.
2 p.m. — Coffee break. I eat some Fruit Loops.
5:20 p.m. — As I leave work I eat a peach and a handful of chips.
6 p.m. — I force myself to go to Walmart. I buy Clorox wipes, bleach, parchment paper, Ziploc bags, canned pumpkin, frozen peas, zoodles, and ice cream. $47.51
6:30 p.m. — I get home. I've had a tension headache all day and it's starting to feel like it's becoming something worse. I want to take ibuprofen, but realize I only have Excedrin. I take two. The caffeine hits me hard and suddenly my head feels fine and I am alive with the energy of a thousand burning suns. I do side hustle work for a few hours while doing laundry. In the middle of the evening, I cobble together some dinner of peas, a tomato, some cottage cheese, and a peach. Later, I do an arm workout with some free weights. I do get a couple of calls from work, but nothing that requires me to go back to the hospital, thankfully. I'm also always in a group text with three friends from residency, and one of them just had a baby so many texts ensue. I finally go to bed around 11:30.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $47.51

Day Seven

5:30 a.m. — Yay for a quiet night on call! I beat my alarm. Still feeling wired. I move my duvet cover from the washer to the dryer and start another load of laundry. Then on to coffee. I turn on some Spotify Indie Pop and clean my bathroom. I have another cup of coffee while I clean the guest bathroom that S. uses when he visits. Then I get ready and head off to work. On my way out the door, I spill my coffee. God help my patients today.
8:30 a.m. — Work. Breakfast is toast with peanut butter.
11 a.m. — Lounge lunch. I have peas and cauliflower, as well as pineapple and grapes. Then, back to work with a Keurig coffee.
2:30 p.m. — The day is kind of dragging. I have a mini Kind bar, a few chips, a piece of cheese, and a can of V8. I also read Shani's latest essay on R29. I love most of her writing.
5 p.m. — I do a little side hustle stuff before I leave for the day. S. and I talk on the way home.
5:45 p.m. — I drop a return package off at UPS and head to the grocery store. I buy two types of kale, apples, blueberries, and olive oil. $24.23
6 p.m. — Home. I eat a peach, put the groceries away, change into gym clothes, and head to the gym for some cardio.
7:15 p.m.— Home again. Dinner is salmon, peas, another peach, and some cottage cheese. The rest of the evening is spent doing laundry and boring wedding-related tasks. I shower before bed around 10.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $24.23
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Want more Money Diaries? Well, you’re in luck — Refinery29 Canada is launching its own Canadian Money Diaries three times a week. (Which means once you’re done with catching up on all our diaries during your lunch break, you can head on over to R29 CA for even more.) You can now experience Money Diaries IRL at 29Rooms Toronto September 26th through October 6th. Buy tickets here.
Spill your Venmo tea! Venmo can bring out the petty in all of us. Whether it's getting a two dollar request from a friend after you innocently took a few bites of her meal, or sleuthing on your Venmo feed to find out two of your friends have been hanging out without you — we want to know all about your Venmo drama. Caught your S.O. cheating by looking at their Venmo receipts? Gotten into a Venmo-inspired confrontation? Tell us about it in this form for a chance to be featured on the site!
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series